Testore Model Viola in Sycamore
Back: Domestic Sycamore
top: Italian Spruce
Oil varnish with a light patina
Body length (mm): 407 (16.0“)
Bouts: 192, 133, 235
Ribs: 35 at neck, 38 at endpin
String length: 379
This viola was I built in homage to a 1757 viola by PA Testore that I very much liked the look of. It had a nice straight waisted outline, very slanted ff-holes and a head with an almost S-shaped pegbox. Unfortunately some of the features, which looked cool proved to be impractical. The stop on the original was excessively long so I raised the f’-holes up the body to a more conventional position. When I did that the lower ends of the ff-s came too close to the edges of the top and I had to stand them upright to get them to fit on the body. The original had an S-shaped pegbox which looked great but it leaned back too far and would have caused the D string to rub on the other pegs, possibly causing tuning problems, so I had to straighten out the S. I was at least able to keep Testore’s scroll design, with its unusually open first turn
Making these corrections reminded me that a lot of the conservatism in my trade has some very practical roots.
The sycamore is a new wood for me. It is quite light and has given the finished viola a warm tone and lively response that I am very happy with.